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Beat Heat Migraines



Summer is a season of growth and bounty in my vegetable and flower garden – a balm to my soul. However, summer is also high season for migraine and cluster headaches. Even in the mountains, it is hard to escape the heat. We are lucky to lack drastic changes in humidity, but temperatures often exceed 100 degrees. Having air conditioning only in our bedroom as an escape, we have to get creative to beat the heat.


I have discovered how to be strategic with overhead fans, standing fans and mini swamp coolers (cute and very effective if you add ice!). Heat and bright light demand blackout curtains line the east-facing windows in the morning and the west-facing ones in the afternoon. Except for smoky days, commonplace in California in the summer and fall, high windows are open at night, and doors are open in the morning to catch what is left of the cool mountain breeze.


I do my best to eat lightly, drink water all day long, and I welcome an occasional nap. I only garden in the very early morning hours, careful to wear a hat and carry cold water. I do my best to schedule doctor's appointments only in the morning to beat the worst heat of the day. I wear loose, breathable clothing to catch air movement and prescription sunglasses to block light and glare. Keeping instant cold packs in my car for emergencies has been a lifesaver. When my appointment is finished, I pre-start my car using my remote to give the air conditioner a head start.


Despite my precautions, when a migraine hits, I head for wet washcloths and ice packs. (I LOVE baby washcloths because they are super soft on my allodynia skin.) I like the fabric-covered ice packs filled with rice or flaxseed and lavender buds or chamomile - I store them in the freezer in plastic zip bags to avoid the smells of the freezer. (I also microwave them in the winter or for muscle aches.) I drink LOTS of water and head for a cool, dark, quiet place to rest.


What are your tricks to staying cool or beating a heat migraine?


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